Incidental fee increase aims to directly reinvest in students

After the four finance committee budgets were passed, the ASUO is hoping that its 4.5 percent increase to the incidental fee can help support and grow student organizations next fall.

Students currently pay $223.75 per term for the incidental fee, which helps pay for student tickets to athletic events, funding for student groups and many other things. The 4.5 percent increase will raise the fee to $233.75 per term and will add $674,950 to the incidental fee budget which creates a total budget of $16,246,264. With these additional funds, ASUO members are hoping to directly support student groups that have experienced constrained growth for several years.

The Program Finance Committee’s budget, which mostly funds student groups, tries to limit its budget growth to 10 percent. However, this increase was not enough to accommodate fast-growing student groups such as the International Student Association and the Veterans and Families Student Association, according to PFC member Zach Lusby.

What is the incidental fee?

Incidental Fee: The fee students pay every term that funds various operations, student groups, contracts, etc.

What students pay now: $223.75

Total Revenue: $15,571,314

What students pay Fall 2016: $233.75

Total Revenue: $16,246,264

Total Revenue Increase: $674,950

This year, PFC will have an 11.6 percent increase in its budget to help with these fast growing groups and has also increased stipends for student leadership positions. According to Lusby, the additional funds will help student groups become more productive.

“A lot of groups grow very quickly on campus and the model PFC works in can’t accommodate that. The benchmark this year really helped us expand those student organizations,” Lusby said.

Within this increase, $740,140 will be used to give student leaders within these groups stipends. ASUO Finance Director Shawn Stevenson said the stipends, which is 26.5 percent of PFC’s total budget, will help students develop leadership skills without having to make significant financial sacrifices or debate if they want to become more involved within their groups.

“With PFC growth, we saw a lot of stipend growth. This is really going to promote student leadership. There will be more positions on campus and more ways for students to grow,” Stevenson said.

In contrast to PFC, the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee, which had an 8 percent increase last year, will have a 1 percent decrease in its budget. According to ACFC chair Andrew Dunn, this decrease helps create space to further support student groups and their work on campus.

“A large increase to the [incidental fee] is not something we set as a goal, but supporting student groups on campus and providing the opportunity for student leaders to grow within their own programs they design is really important to ASUO,” Dunn said.

Stevenson said that he is excited to see how the funds will affect the Men’s Center, which works with sexual assault prevention and reassessing masculinity. Now that the group can hire a full-time director,  Stevenson and other ASUO members are optimistic about the growth the Men’s Center will see.

The ASUO decided to limit the fee increase to 4.5 percent because it did not want to be greater than the 4.46 and 4.7 percent tuition increase for in-state and out-of-state students next year, Stevenson said. The decision was made to stand in solidarity with students.

See a complete breakdown of where the incidental fee goes here.

Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.



Tell us what you think:

Miles Trinidad

Miles Trinidad

Miles Trinidad is an Opinion Columnist for the Emerald focusing on politics, social policy and economics. Prior to joining the Opinion Desk, Trinidad was a reporter and covered student groups and ASUO for the Emerald from 2015-2016 and contributed to Flux Magazine in 2017.

Trinidad has worked in political campaigns, non-profit political advocacy, and a legislative and communication role for a U.S. senator.

Trinidad is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in political science, economics, and journalism.